The New York Times has a nice overview article on a new literary festival launching in Paris later this week, and run in part by Caro Llewellyn who directed the PEN World Voices Festival a few years back:
Paris is reaching out to recapture its place as a center of literature with a new festival of international writers that was set to begin Friday.
“There’s a sense in America that France is a country of culture, but when you are looking from the inside, a lot of people have been complaining that France needs to find its beating heart again,” said Lila Azam Zanganeh, a French-Iranian writer who now lives in New York and is one of the writers participating in the festival, Écrivains du Monde. [. . .]
The Écrivains du Monde festival may not, on its own, recreate the vibrant sense of literary experimentation and adventure of the first half of the 20th century, when Paris was home to the likes of Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, but it marks a new appreciation of the primacy of international writing, in a country that despite a complex relationship with outsiders, has always embraced their contribution to the arts. [. . .]
The inaugural festival draws together some 28 writers from at least 18 countries. Most are not French themselves, but they have been translated into French and have a French following. The authors, who are speaking for small stipends, include some of the best-known fiction writers at work today: Salman Rushdie, John Banville, Richard Ford, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, David Grossman, Ma Jian and Michael Ondaatje. Also attending are several authors who write in French although not all of them are from France, including two from Lebanon and a Canadian-Haitian. The writers, who are coming for three days to Paris, with a few going on to spend two days in Lyon on Sept. 23 and 24, will hold intimate — and sometimes not so intimate — talks with their readers and literary enthusiasts. Panel discussions will take on topics like the challenges of translation, identity and conflict, literature and war.
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .
It’s been almost a year since the publication of Nowhere to Be Found by Bae Suah, but despite being included on the 2015 PEN Translation award longlist, and some pretty vocal support from key indie presses, the book has. . .
Jorge Eduardo Benavides’ novel La paz de los vencidos (The Peace of the Defeated) takes the form of a diary written by a nameless Peruvian thirty-something intellectual slumming it in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands. Recently relocated. . .
Anyone with any interest at all in contemporary Moroccan writing must start with Souffles. A cultural and political journal, Souffles (the French word for “breaths”) was founded in 1966 by Abdellatif Laâbi and Mostafa Nissabouri. Run by a group of. . .
Randall Jarrell once argued a point that I will now paraphrase and, in doing so, over-simplify: As a culture, we need book criticism, not book reviews. I sort of agree, but let’s not get into all of that. Having finished. . .